Muslim cleric Sheikh Abubakar Shariff aka ‘Makaburi’ who has previously preached for Jihad has been shot dead by unknown gunmen.
The controversial cleric was felled in a rush of bullets as he walked out of Shanzu Law Courts within Shimo la Tewa Maximum Prison in Mombasa on Tuesday evening alongside one other person. Another man who was injured and rushed to hospital.
Witnesses said armed attackers pulled up in a black car and aimed at the four men as they waited for the court gateman to open.
He had gone to wait for the decision on whether his bail conditions would be reduced but the case was delayed by a court ‘open-day’ function, sources said. Police are yet to issue a statement on the matter.
Sheikh Makaburi was facing charges of being a member of a terror group. He had denied the charges.
He becomes the third high-profile Muslim cleric to be felled by bullets in less than two years. In August 2012, Sheikh Aboud Rogo was killed in a similar fashion by people who trailed him in an unmarked car. His murder led to protests but the case has never been resolved.
On Tuesday evening, there was high tension in the coastal city after reports went round of the cleric’s killing as he awaited a ruling on whether the court would reduce his freedom bond.
Last week on Wednesday, the controversial preacher whose outspoken support for Al Shabaab and justification of the Westgate attack earned him notoriety, was awarded Sh670, 000 in damages for unlawful detention of his property.
Mombasa High Court judge Maureen Odero said the cleric should be paid after his property was seized by police during a raid at his house four years ago. She said that the police failed to persuade the court why they detained electronic equipment, phones and computer accessories they had seized in Sheikh Abubakar’s house.
Police had accused Sheikh Abubakar of advocating jihad, or holy war, radicalising the youth and recruiting fighters for Al Shabaab, which has been carrying out a campaign of terror against Kenya, killing dozens. Sheikh Abubakar denies the claims but has publicly said Al Shabaab was justified in killing 67 people at Westgate.
But even as he celebrated his court award, he would never stop looking over his shoulder. A number of his colleagues who have previously been associated with him had either disappeared or been killed mysteriously.
In February last year, Sheikh Makaburi, an ally to the late controversial Muslim cleric Aboud Rogo, sought refuge at a Mombasa police station claiming his life was danger. At the time, he claimed he had been trailed by people he suspected to be members of the Anti-Terror Police Unit.-nation.co.ke